facebook linkedin twitter

Audio Recordings that Reliably Detect COVID-19 not Quite Ready for Use

August 11, 2021 by Daniel Mollenkamp
A Reel-to-Reel tape recorder. (Wikimedia Commons)

The underlying algorithms for an app that can mass detect COVID-19 through audio are not quite ready yet, researchers say.

COVID-19 has a distinct effect on the audio produced by infected people, which has enticed researchers to explore using it as a way to create widely available mass testing for the disease. With effective mass testing available, they expect public health officials would be able to better control the disease.

Using machine learning, a branch of computer science and artificial intelligence in which algorithms learn to spot patterns, researchers have been working to create algorithms that reliably identify the disease across the population.

It would also mark a milestone in the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning to transform public health, the kind of transformation that regulators are gearing up for. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, for instance, has begun exploring regulatory pathways for the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning in medical devices.

A study published in April in BMJ Innovations, a prominent health innovation journal, reported that deep learning could be used to identify both symptomatic and asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 from audio recordings of breathing and coughing.

It may also be useful for determining the likelihood of death in infected patients, according to a 2021 review of machine learning and COVID-19.

While a scalable app for audio detection could be deployed this week, determining whether these technologies actually detect COVID-19 is more of a challenge, Harry Coppock, a doctoral student in artificial intelligence at Imperial College London and an author on the BMJ study, said in an interview.

An article in The Lancet that Coppock co-authored raised a number of questions that still need to be sorted out.

The issues preventing the release of this technology revolve around the question of whether the algorithms are truly spotting biomarkers for COVID-19 or whether they are latching onto other correlations in the datasets, the article said.

The seeming effectiveness of locating infected people could be attributed to the cleverness of the algorithms which may simply be identifying traits that are often found in people who have COVID-19, which would mean that the algorithms are not actually catching COVID-19. 

For instance, the study says, they could be distinguishing between healthy and sick individuals generally, or between socioeconomic, geographic, ethnic, or other comorbidities. 

They may also respond to other factors in the environment or in the patients’ emotional state since many of the patients used in the studies have known they had COVID-19 when recording the audio samples and sick patients might have other things in common that have nothing to do with the disease such as they are more likely to be inside. 

“I would not endorse a COVID detection app currently due to the dangers of false-negative results and inconclusive results,” Coppock said.

The Lancet article also raised some concerns over the datasets, which for the most part have not been peer-reviewed or released.

“I believe it could be very transformative. However, the tech still needs to come a long way before it can be used,” Coppock said.

“We have to be very sure otherwise the consequences of using a faulty test are huge.”

Research

September 15, 2021
by Alexa Hornbeck
U.S. Health System Trails Far Behind Other High-income Countries

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that no nation has the perfect health system, but a report from the Commonwealth Fund... Read More

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that no nation has the perfect health system, but a report from the Commonwealth Fund finds the U.S. trails far behind other high-income countries on measures of health care affordability, administrative efficiency, equity, and outcomes. By analyzing 11 high-income countries and... Read More

September 15, 2021
by Alexa Hornbeck
Study: Getting Vaccinated Against COVID-19 Can Improve Mental Health

LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- A year-long study conducted by researchers from the University of Southern California finds that getting vaccinated... Read More

LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- A year-long study conducted by researchers from the University of Southern California finds that getting vaccinated against COVID-19 can actually improve mental health. “We were interested to see what the short-term effects of getting a COVID-19 vaccination would be on people’s mental... Read More

August 26, 2021
by Reece Nations
Report on COVID-19 Origins Suggests Lab Leak Theory ‘Unlikely’

A scientific report first published in the peer-reviewed journal Cell sheds new light on the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic... Read More

A scientific report first published in the peer-reviewed journal Cell sheds new light on the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic and concludes that evidence of a leak from the Wuhan Institute of Virology is unlikely. Researchers studying the geographic locations of the first wave of COVID-19... Read More

August 25, 2021
by Alexa Hornbeck
Study Shows COVID-19 Vaccines are Safe for Pregnant and Lactating Women

A recent study from researchers at the University of Washington shows that COVID-19 vaccines are well-tolerated among individuals who are... Read More

A recent study from researchers at the University of Washington shows that COVID-19 vaccines are well-tolerated among individuals who are pregnant, lactating, or planning pregnancy. “I think pregnant individuals are hardwired to try to protect their baby, and when there are vaccines and other substances we... Read More

August 24, 2021
by Victoria Turner
NASA Administrator Makes Space Resource History with 10 Cent Check

WASHINGTON -- The National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Administrator Bill Nelson handed over a check for 10 cents to Lunar... Read More

WASHINGTON -- The National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Administrator Bill Nelson handed over a check for 10 cents to Lunar Outpost CEO Justin Cyrus at yesterday’s Space Foundation 36th Space Symposium.  The check was 10% of the Colorado-based startup’s $1 bid that landed them the contract... Read More

August 16, 2021
by Alexa Hornbeck
New Study Reveals Unexpected Findings About Aging and Metabolism

A new study from a team of international researchers finds that our metabolism does not slow down over the span... Read More

A new study from a team of international researchers finds that our metabolism does not slow down over the span of a lifetime as traditionally believed, but rather stalls from age 20 to 60.  “We can see that infants have accelerated metabolism, and that not until... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top